Supes’ Committee To Consider Ending Criminal Justice Fees

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

SF Gate 

The East Bay Community Law Center said today that it is seeking to convince Alameda County officials to eliminate administrative fees for people who are convicted of crimes.

The law center, a Berkeley-based legal services provider that serves low-income residents in the county, says Alameda County will become only the second county in the U.S. to eliminate such fees if it takes that step.

The issue will be discussed at the Board of Supervisors’ Public Protection Committee meeting at the county administration building at 1221 Oak St. in Oakland at 10 a.m. on Thursday.

East Bay Community Law Center staff attorney and clinical supervisor Brandon Greene said today that if the committee votes on Thursday in favor of eliminating the administrative fees the matter will go to the Board of Supervisors in October for final approval.

The law center says the Probation Department, Office of the Alameda County Public Defender and the Sheriff’s Office assess what it describes as “insurmountable fees” on people who are convicted of criminal offenses.

As an example, it says defendants in Alameda County are charged probation supervision fees of up to $90 per month and pre-charge investigation report costs of $710.

The law center alleges in a news release that “criminal justice fees in Alameda County are causing high pain for families and low gain for local county government.”

Greene said, “This is not only a fiscal and good governance issue but also a racial justice issue” because the fees disproportionately affect black people, who he said are frequently stopped by the police and “are overburdened by housing costs, lower-than-average wages and the disastrous impacts of gentrification.”

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